TELANDER: Adding Jumbotron would make Wrigley Field mundane
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com June 1, 2013 9:10PM
Cranes position a tarp meant to approximate the size of the jumbotron the Cubs want to build in left field on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. MANDATORY CREDIT: Photo courtesy of WillByington.com.
Updated: July 3, 2013 6:49AM
I wasn’t there the other day when the Cubs hoisted a giant fabric sign over the left-field bleachers, a mock-up of the Jumbotron they’d like to place there along Waveland Avenue.
They did it so everybody could get an idea of how big a 6,000-square-foot sign is.
It’s big. I’ve seen the photos.
In fact, it’s more than three times the size of the lovable green center-field scoreboard that has been there for decades and is run by human hands and human heads that stick out of the portals like termites out of old wood.
So you’ve got to wonder — at least I do — what use is there to the big green prehistoric thing once lights and bells take over? Do the guys inside the landmarked rectangle keep putting up meaningless yellow, then white, 1’s and 2’s and Night Games when the Jumbotron is done with that seconds earlier? When everybody in the stands has a smart phone and knows everything there is to know about everything?
Sometimes less is more.
If you’ve ever been to Augusta National for the Masters tournament, you’ll know what I mean. The Masters is the greatest of golf events precisely because there are no noises, no cell phones, no Jumbotrons, no signs, no pizzazz. Only the beauty of the course and the purity of the game at its best.
Staying behind, becoming unique — there is value in that.
A huge Jumbotron in a stadium, that is the opposite of unique.
† THIS GUY CHRIS ‘‘Birdman’’ Andersen, the Heat’s reserve power forward, fascinates me.
Suspended from the Heat-Pacers playoff game Saturday for shoving Tyler Hansbrough, Andersen played one year of juco ball at some place called Blinn College. He was not drafted and went to China to start his pro career. In the NBA, he was suspended for two years for violating the league’s drug policy.
He has been back for five years and is a nice ‘‘energy’’ player. His high, spiked Mohawk is amusing, though I wonder why it’s allowed because you’d hate to get jabbed in the eye by it.
But let’s be frank. Anybody can wear weird hair. I’m talking tattoos.
Andersen has them everywhere, and each offseason they increase in volume and hue.
Tattoos are kind of a signature thing in the NBA. Having one or two or a dozen is no big deal. Like moles.
But Andersen has very white skin, and his tats show up like paint on a Chagall mural. And those neck tattoos. My god.
There is purple and magenta and puce and scarlet and orange and yellow in there. A parrot blushes in front of Birdman.
Then there is ‘‘FREE BIRD’’ inked across it all, from ear to ear, like a saber scar. Only huge.
You cannot look at this man and not see something else besides a ballplayer. I don’t know what that is.
But it fascinates me. And, yes, it horrifies me.
† HOW GOOD IS L E BRON James?
He’s so good that he has changed the game, the way only the greatest players change the game.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain changed the game. So did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. So did Magic Johnson. So, of course, did Michael Jordan.
But here’s what James, 6-8, 250, can do. He can take three or four steps without dribbling and make it look legal, covering maybe 15 feet. He can pass to a teammate 30 feet away, according to ESPN Sports Science, faster than Tom Brady could.
He has been timed at 20 mph on the court; Olympic dash champions go 28 mph. He launches his three-point shots from nine feet in the air, making them essentially unblockable.
He is a freak of nature, filled with desire. All he needs are five more rings to be Mike.
† SPURS BIG MAN TIM Duncan is older and quieter than dirt. He is without question the lowest-flying, least heralded first-ballot Hall of Famer there ever has been.
He says nothing of note. His expression seldom changes. He has no vicious dunks, no showy moves. No rap sheet, no dancing hobby, no TV show. His career highlight reel could be used as a sedative.
But then there are his stats and his success — both off the charts. Duncan is a two-time MVP, a three-time Finals MVP and a 14-year All-Star. He is the only player to make the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in each of his first 13 seasons.
And he has won four NBA titles. With a good chance to win one more this year.
What an odd, beautiful way to make a statement.